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Egypt
24.11.20
Urgent Interventions

Inhumane and degrading detention conditions of Mr. Gasser Abdel Razeq, Executive Director of EIPR

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information

EGY 006 / 1120 / OBS 127.2

Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment /

Inhumane and degrading

detention conditions

Egypt
November 24,
2020


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a jointpartnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), hasreceived new information and requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Egypt.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the Egyptian Initiativefor Personal Rights (EIPR)[1]about the harsh detention conditions at Tora Prison Complex of Mr. GasserAbdel Razeq, the Executive Director of EIPR, after his arrest on November19, 2020.

According to EIPR’s defence team, who were able to see Mr.Abdel Razeq for the first time since his arrest on Thursday November 19, thelatter is being subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment in his cell thatputs his health and safety at risk. He was never allowed out of the cell, hadonly a metal bed to sleep on with neither mattress nor covers, save for a lightblanket, was deprived of all his possessions and money, was given only twolight pieces of summer garments, and was denied the right to use his own moneyto purchase food and essentials from the prison’s canteen. Moreover, his headwas shaved completely.

His lawyers are currently preparing to submit an officialcomplaint to the General Prosecutor detailing the mistreatment Mr. Abdel Razeqis subjected to.

The Observatory recalls that Gasser Abdel Razeq was arrestedon November 19, one day after the arrest of Mr. Karim Ennarah, EIPR’sCriminal Justice Director, and the arrest of Mr. Mohamed Basheer, theorganisation’s Administrative Manager, on November 15. The three colleaguesface similar charges of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and ‘usingsocial media accounts to publish false news and information that may harmpublic peace and security’. Their arrest appears to be in retaliation for their organisation of ameeting with a dozen of foreign diplomats in Cairo on November 3. None of the three defendants were presented with anyevidence or investigation reports to support such spurious charges.

Following their arrest, the defendants had been blindfoldedfor long hours at national security premises, and held in pretrial detentionwithout any grounds. Both Mr. Mohamed Basheer and Mr. Gasser Abdelrazek wereinterrogated at the State Security Sector without the presence of theirlawyers. They did not get visits from the lawyers, who only saw them during thequestioning at SSS Prosecution and very briefly after the questioning.

Furthermore, the Observatory is extremely worried of thedetention conditions of Mr. Karim Ennarah and Mr. Mohamed Besheer who are alsobeing detained at Tora Prison Complex and who have not provided informationabout their prison conditions as they have not been allowed any visitors oraccess to their lawyers since their detention began.

The Observatory condemns the detention conditions of Mr.Gasser Abdel Razeq, which do not respect international nor Egyptian standards,and urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally releaseGasser Abdel Razeq, Karim Ennarah and Mohamed Besheer and to drop all charges againstthem.

The Observatory more generally deplores this series ofattacks against this renowned and respected human rights organisation and callson the Egyptian authorities to put an end to the systematic targeting of theEIPR and its members.

Background information:

After midnight on November 15, 2020, security forces arrested Mr. Mohamed Basheer at his house, in Cairo. He was then broughtto an unidentified State Security Sector facility where he was detained for 12hours and questioned about the visit of several ambassadors and diplomats toEIPR premises on November 3, 2020, during which the human rights situation inEgypt and in the world was discussed. After this interrogation, he appearedbefore the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) of the Fifth Settlementdistrict, where he was questioned about EIPR’s work, its latest publicationsand its legal aid work.

Subsequently, the SSSP charged Mr. Basheer with “joining aterrorist organisation with knowledge of its purposes”, “using a personal accounton the internet to spread false information that undermines public security”,“committing one of the crimes of funding terrorism”, “broadcasting false newsand statements that undermines public security” and “harming nationalinterest”, and decided to remand him in custody for 15 days and to resume thequestioning at a later date. The prosecution added Mr. Mohamed Basheer to casen°855/2020 alongside with several other activists and human rightsprofessionals, including lawyers Mohamed El Baqer[2]and Mahinour El Masry[3].

On November 18, 2020, at 2pm, Mr. Karim Ennarah was arrested by fourplain-clothed National Security Agency officers in a restaurant in Dahab (SouthSinai) were he was on vacation, after security forces had visited on November 17,2020, Mr. Ennarah’s home in Cairo in order to arrest him, but without findinghim then. The officers questioned him during a few minutes, requested him togive them his phone and took him to the local police station. After Mr.Ennarah’s arrest, police officers raided his hotel room, where they seized hisID, laptop and other belongings.

Mr. Ennarah then appeared in front of the Supreme State SecurityProsecutor (SSSP) in Cairo and after an interrogation that lasted for fourhours and where EIPR lawyers were present, the SSSP ordered Karim Ennarah’s pretrial detention for 15 days per casen°855/2020 pending investigations over charges of “joining a terrorist group”,“using a social media account to spread false news” and “spreading false news”.The prosecutor based the charges on security investigations showing that KarimEnnarah “agreed with a group inside prisons to spread false rumours that couldundermine public peace and public safety.”

On November 19, 2020, securityforces arrested Mr. Gasser Abdel Razeq from his home in Cairo and took him toan unknown location. He later appeared and was interrogated at the SSSP, whoordered his pretrial detention for 15 days in case n°855/2020 pendinginvestigations into similar charges of “joining a terrorist group”,“disseminating false statements to undermine public security”, and “using theinternet to publish false news”.

In addition, media outlets affiliated with the GeneralIntelligence Service have been leading a smear campaign against the EIPR, aimedat discrediting their work[4].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity andpsychological well-being of Messrs. Karim Ennarah, Gasser Abdel Razeq andMohamed Basheer as well as of all other human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Conform with Egyptian Constitution Article 55[5]and with Egyptian Prison regulation article 82 regarding the proper and humanedetention conditions;

iii. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Karim Ennarah,Gasser Abdel Razeq and MohamedBasheer as well as all other human rights defenders prosecutedunder the same case;

iv. Put an end to any form of harassment, including at the judiciallevel, against Messrs. Karim Ennarah, Gasser Abdel Razeq and Mohamed Basheer,as well as all other human rights defenders in Egypt;


v. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, inparticular with Articles 1, and 12.2;

vi. Ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in allcircumstances, in accordance with international human rights standards andinternational instruments to which Egypt is a State party.

Addresses:

President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattahel-Sisi, Fax: +202 2391 1441. Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial

Prime Minister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed.Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg

Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik,Email: center@iscmi.gov.eg

Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim,Fax: +202 2795 8103

Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 25774716

Head of the Egyptian parliament’s Human Rights Committee,Mr. Alaa Abed, Email: humanrightscomplaints@parliament.gov.eg

Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Councilfor Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg

H.E. Mr. Alaa Youssef, Ambassador, Permanent Mission ofEgypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@bluewin.ch

Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88;Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Egypt in yourrespective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, November 24, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of thisappeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is toprevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDHand OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the EuropeanUnion Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civilsociety.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

Tel FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18

Tel OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

[1] TheEgyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has been working since 2002 tostrengthen and protect basic rights and freedoms in Egypt, through research,advocacy and supporting litigation in the fields of civil liberties, economicand social rights, and criminal justice.

[2] SeeJointstatementInternational NGOs callfor the immediate release of human rights defenders Mohamed El-Baqer and AlaaAbdel Fattah on the first anniversary of their arrest’,published on September 29, 2020

[3] See the Observatory Urgent Appeal EGY 003 / 0919 /OBS 074,published on September 23, 2019.

[4] Seetwo articles published by Youm7 and Sawtal-Omma (in Arabic).

[5] Article 55of the Egyptian constitution states that “[e]very person who is eitherarrested, detained, or his freedom is restricted shall be treated in a mannerthat preserves his dignity. He/she may not be tortured, intimidated, coerced,or physically or morally harmed; and may not be seized or detained except inplaces designated for that purpose, which shall be adequate on human and healthlevels.”.

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